Labour Regional Conference: Showing How This Party is Thriving While The Tories Are Crumbling By Helen Hill

By Helen Hill.

This weekend saw the return of the annual Labour Party North West Regional Conference to Blackpool and it pulled in the biggest attendance in it’s history, so much so that it completely sold out for the first time ever.

The conference was held at the Hilton Hotel, situated on Blackpool seafront and saw many regional MP’s and MEP’s joined by shadow cabinet members such as Angela Rayner, John McDonnell, Diane Abbott, Emily Thornberry and the man himself – Mr Corbyn – take the the stage to make speeches. 


As a regular attendee of regional conference and someone elected to the North West CAC it was amazing to see so many of our front benchers wanting to come and address the North West delegation and talk about regional issues that affect us, but what was even more wonderful was the incredible atmosphere! 

There was a real sense of unity amongst the delegates, union officials, affiliate members and visitors. 

There was passion, positivity, satisfaction and excitement but upon reflection it is unsurprising.

The North West had incredible results during the General Election this year, where not only did we hold every single Labour seat and increased our majorities within them but we also won four strongly contested marginal seats and reduced the Tory majority by up to 70% in the few seats they hold in our region. 

To say the region cleaned up at the election would be an understatement and as Jeremy Corbyn pointed out in his wonderful speech, the North West has the highest portion of the Labour vote in the entire country! 

The mood of conference was simply a reflection of our success and for the first time in a number of years, the unsettled atmosphere of a party struggling with infighting and uncertainty was replaced with stability and confidence.

I was nominated for election at conference and although this is now the third consecutive year for me, it never gets any less scary. I have held a seat on the North West CAC for the last two years and was nominated to stand again to retain it. I was really honoured to be put on the Momentum slate as a candidate that they were backing and was inundated with support from Labour members, local CLP’s, Unite and Momentum members, so despite being nervous and having the usual self doubt, I felt supported and honoured that so many people had faith in me and thankfully I was re-elected for a third term! 


It turned out that I was uncontested so I did not need to go to ballot like I have in previous years and it meant that I could relax and enjoy the conference instead of biting my nails and waiting for a result. 
The Momentum backed candidates literally cleaned up in terms of the elections, with the Regional Board and the CAC both seeing a shift in terms far more of their elected representatives being from the Momentum slate, which is good news for Jeremy Corbyn who really needs the backing of internal panels such as these. 


What I always enjoy about regional conference is the opportunity it gives me to meet so many like minded people and to catch up with others from across the region who I have met and maybe worked alongside before but live miles away from and rarely see. 

It also gives you the opportunity to meet the MP’s and have a good chat with them. I would say that regional conference is a must for anyone who wants to network and progress within the party and it is surprising over the past few years how many people I have got to know, from every level of the party. 


This year I even ran into some Facebook friends from left wing forums who I have become acquainted with over the years but until then had never met in person and it was so nice to chat in real life!

The speeches were varied and very relevant, focusing on everything from Brexit and how it will affect the region, to the economy education and the terrorist threat and what Labour can do to counter it. I thought that this was a really important issue to address after the horrendous Manchester Arena bombing because terrorism is an issue that is coming to the fore as a concern here in our region, some people view Labour as a soft touch on issues such as immigration and homeland security. 

Diane Abbott addressed these misconceptions and gave the reassurance that many in the region were looking for, pointing out that actually the Tory austerity policies and police cuts are what have left the UK struggling to handle the terrorist threat and that Labour would not only ensure that there were 10,000 more police officers on the streets to keep us safe but also 5,000 additional boarder officers who would be able to have a much better grip on immigration. 

She quite rightly explained that despite the Tories attempts, it had been proven that Britain cannot be kept safe on the cheap and that actually, it is the Tories that are a threat to our national security thanks to their under funding and cuts!

I also attended a Momentum fringe event which focused on young voters and the importance of the role they played in our election success this year, the issue of votes at 16 again coming to the fore with young Labour members on the panel quite rightly stating the fact that the 1.5 million 16 and 17 year olds who were so rudely shunned in Parliament just this week will not forget it in a hurry who screwed them over and that these are future voters that we need to engage now and continue to lobby for – because they also will not forget who stood with them and will vote accordingly when the time comes.

Jeremy Corbyn gave a really strong speech and talked about the success in the General Election and how we must continue to build upon it because we simply do not know when the next election will be.

He addressed the current disparity between investment in the North and South of the country and how he will ensure equality across all regions, the sexual harrassment scandal that has emerged in Westminster and what Labour will be doing to tackle that both in Parliament and the wider party and also how successful we have been in turning the Tories around and forcing them to scrap their entire manifesto. 


I left conference with many new ideas, hopes and goals and that is the best thing about attending conferences, you come away feeling enthused and ready to fight on, more motivated than ever.


Watch out Tories, Labour in the North West is united, strong and dare I say it…. stable.

Why Has It Taken So Long To Start Work On Shielding Grenfell Tower? By Lisa Mulholland 

Two weeks ago, I was on my way to a concert at Wembley. Happy and excited as I was driving along through London, (we travelled from south London and was heading to North London) my cousin and I were happily pointing out all of the pretty sights in London. 

As we continued our drive, singing along to music and generally in a fantastic mood, we were driving over a flyover and spotted a skyline that was filled with tower blocks that were lit up. All except one. One huge tower was darker than the night sky.

I wasn’t sure exactly where I was, as I was just following my sat nav but this tower was huge and haunting. Something about it unnerved me. 

In my head I thought ” What is that… it can’t be Grenfell can it?”

As I got closer I realised it was. 

We both fell silent. Our singing stopped. I gulped and said “I think that is Grenfell”.

We got closer and I could see the burnt shell. Towering above us. And I cannot explain the sheer horror I felt. I flinched and gasped at the enormity of it. Overcome with emotion my reflexes kicked in and I shouted “Oh My God.”

I am not an emotional person. I cry perhaps 3 times a year but I cried right there and then.

Just the sight of the tower reduced me to shake and cry. And I was only driving past. It is a feeling that has stayed with me and I cannot describe to people just how horrific it was to see that tower.

Which instantly led me to ask myself “How on earth to people who live next to the tower cope with seeing that every day?”

I didn’t know anyone in that tower. I was just a passerby yet the punch in the stomach I felt by looking at it was very overwhelming. 

Imagine seeing that every day? 

Imagine seeing it burn!

Imagine if you lost people in that blaze???

At the time I thought ‘why is that tower still in full view, it should be covered up to protect the people living nearby but also out of respect for the people that perished there.’

It is now essentially a gigantic ‘tomb in the sky.’

So I was pleased to hear last week; 4 months after the terrible, horrific events of the Grenfell Tower fire, the authorities have finally decided to cover up the tower in protective material to shield it from the eyes of the public.

But work on this will not be completed until early 2018!!

There are so many reasons why this needs to be done. And so many reasons why this should have started months ago.

No one can really imagine the true horror of witnessing the fire, which was a rather prolonged horrific event that continued for hours. 

For those who knew people that lived in the tower, the horror must be beyond any stretch of your worst nightmare. 

And to be helpless. For hours. 

I would imagine that many of the survivors and witnesses may have already or could, in the future, develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some of factors that contribute to PTSD are reliving the events and exposure to the place where it happened. 

Part of their recovery will be hindered by constantly having to view the tower in all its horrifying enormity every day.

So how can they recover? Why has this not been done sooner.

A month ago I went to The World Transformed Event where I met some Justice 4 Grenfell campaigners. They told us that only 5 families had been rehoused and that there had been around 50 suicide attempts. 

Which all points to my guess that there must be hundreds of people suffering from acute PTSD.

I decided to look into it, because let’s face it, the mainstream media have gone quiet over it. All I could find was that the local authority have a page set up advising people to go to their local Mind charity for support. And there is now a community hub to support witnesses and survivors.

But having had to use mental health services for my child recently, I know that the services are massively underfunded and under equipped to deal with the general population. Let alone the unprecedented amount of people suffering after a major tragedy.

Seeing the support that is offered now (and I do not claim to know if everyone has been offered support, or whether it is adequate) I can only hope that this is enough and that this support doesn’t just stop. With austerity raging on it is something we can only hope for. This support will be needed for years to come and sometimes PTSD can be delayed. 

So many questions need to be answered, aside from the obvious:

Why are people not being rehoused? And when I say rehoused I mean in permanent , suitable accommodation?

Why has it taken so long to even start covering up the tower? 

Or for anyone to even acknowledge that this needed to be done?

Why has the tower that still holds remains of the poor souls that perished inside the tower, not been covered straight away as a mark of respect and to protect the evidence inside the tower from the elements of weather and decay?

When I met those Grenfell campaigners, when I stood at the housing talk and gave a minutes silence to remember the dead, and when I drove past that tower in tears I made a silent promise to them and everyone affected by it:

I will never forget you and I will never stop seeking Justice 4 Grenfell.

And I urge you to all do the same. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere.”



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Happiness: A Basic Human Right? Not According To The Tories By Eddie Luigi 

By Eddie Luigi 


Let me make this clear from the start. Generally I am happy and content. 

I view happiness as a three legged stool, with happiness as the seat and the three legs of home, health and an honest wage for an honest job.
Any of you who have studied psychology will be aware of Maslow and his hierarchy of needs. 

Which in a nutshell means until you have achieved the basic needs you cannot go on to achieve any of the more humanistic needs. 



The basic needs at the bottom of the hierarchy are food, water, warmth, rest security and safety. Without these essentials it is impossible to proceed up the hierarchy and achieve happiness and fulfil ones potential.


It’s like a game of ‘snakes and ladders’ sometimes you’re going up and sometimes you go down and have to start the climb again.

So, my view is that, until you have the basics of home, health and an honest wage, you can’t even begin to think about happiness. Then if one of those three legs of the stool is missing, happiness comes tumbling down.

But since the tories came to power in 2010, millions of people in England are struggling to gain the basic needs. Hard to believe but the figures do not lie:

4,134 sleeping rough ( up 134% since tories got in 2010) in England.
Almost 1.2 million needed emergency three day food parcels.

250,000 as registered homeless in England.

Around 4 million private renting in England. Most of these will have yearly or month to month contracts, with no basic security. 

That is a lot of people that can’t reach a happy state, or fulfil their potential.

Many self help books advise you to simplify and find happiness in the little everyday things.
This does not seem good advice if you have no home and your day is taken up by wondering where you can sleep safely tonight. 

Nor does it help if your physical or mental health means that your day is taken up wondering if you can be cured, or taken up trying to overcome the splinter in your mind that feeds the self doubts about your looks, your weight, your usefulness or your worth. 

That advice must surely be ignored if after you honest day’s work your ‘honest’ day’s wage, topped up by social welfare, is still not enough to meet your budgetary needs for housing, feeding and clothing your family.

I fear that in our current political situation not everyone will have the three stool legs necessary to think about happiness.




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I Am A Mental Health Worker And This Is A Letter To My Patients That I’ll Never Send By The Masked Avenger

Author Anoynmous

Dear Service User,

I am sorry I cannot offer more.

I am sorry I couldn’t call you back yesterday when you needed me and I am sorry I am not able to do more to help you.

I have worked in mental health for 10+ years and whilst I love my job it never gets any easier. 

I have books on my shelves and articles in files on the latest evidence based practice. I have ideas in my head for sessions we can do together and the passion to sit with you whilst we figure all this out. 

However, first you need to get to me and I need the time to deliver it all.

Referrals into mental health services are on the increase, this could be due to the ever growing pressures in society on everyone; from children to the elderly or the successful drive to normalize and promote mental health like never before, ripping down barriers and shouting from the roof tops that it is ok to not be ok.

So you gather the courage to call someone (which I know is so hard to do) and get help…

Unfortunately our pie is not getting any bigger, there is no more ‘money tree’ and we cannot afford anymore resources. So whilst we are able to see you, accessing treatment is entirely different. 
In the service I work in there are 30 practitioners for nearly 400 people on the waiting lists. No matter how you do the maths it is never going to fit. We try and change the service, we make it more lean, we shave things down to try and get everyone in but it is impossible. We have ideas of more we can offer but no money to fund it and no bodies to deliver it.

I want to see you straight away but there are hundreds of other people ahead of you.

I want to take it at your pace and see you for as long as it takes but I only have 8 sessions otherwise other people will have to wait longer. 

I want to be there to answer the phone straight away when you need me but I already have 6 other back to back appointments, before racing to collect my children from school. 

I constantly squeeze every drop of time to fit in more people but inevitably it all runs out as I cannot make 24 hours into 25. 

I want to offer you the therapy you need but no service, that I know of, is commissioned to offer it, which just really sucks.

I don’t know what the solution is but I want you to know that I am sorry because I feel just as frustrated as you. 

I know my boss, their boss and the bosses’ boss also constantly look for answers, but with an ever growing population and more needs becoming prevalent it is very hard. 

It’s not just us either; before, we could have referred you to other 3rd sector organisations which could have helped but they are just as squeezed as us and having to make equally hard and heartbreaking decisions. 

So please don’t be offended when we talk about self help materials or equipping you with the tools to help yourself, it is the only weapon I have at the moment to help you long after I have to reluctantly discharge and move on to the next case. 

Please don’t think I don’t care if my next visit isn’t for another 6 weeks, I hate this just as much as you do. I need you to understand that my intervention isn’t limited through choice , so all we can do in the short time we have is to teach you the skills I have to help yourself.

I need you to not miss any appointments as they count in my limited time and I need you to work with me as much as you can so that I can give you all I have. 

One day maybe we will have enough resources, but for now all I have is I am sorry!! 

We all deserve more than this, no one more than you. 
Please hang on in there, believe in yourself, take any support you can find and know that your wait isn’t because we don’t care, our pie just simply isn’t big enough.

From Your Practitioner. 

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People Are Bloody Brilliant By Lucy Chapman

I have been living in a world of negativity, probably since David Bowie died,  not that I’m blaming him; I think he got his timing spot on. 

Then Alan Rickman, then Caroline Ahern and Victoria Wood finished me off. But this isn’t about them.

There was the Brexit referendum here and Trump winning the election in the USA. I found the injustices of our selfish, immoral and heartless government so overwhelming that I felt duty-bound to start attending meetings with the opposition party to fight the good fight. I also felt compelled to put pen to paper and write about these issues for others to read about but the research necessary simply lead me down even darker paths of corruption and lies; the fire of anger and passion raged even stronger than before.

Writing wasn’t a comfort but a catalyst.

But this isn’t about that either. This isn’t even about Kim Jong Un pissing in corners or concerts where children are being bombed, or police being killed trying to save lives, or Muslims being stabbed on their way to worship. No, this all contributed to the anger churning inside, this was my view of the world and I was getting simultaneously more angry yet more numbed to these events and even bored of trying to argue against them. I was writing blogs about how rubbish things were and at the same time was totally fed up with reading the moans of other people, even when I agreed with them… But yesterday at 4.45pm, I set up a JustGiving page…

My good friend has Cancer. At age 36. Two years after beginning a new life, newlywed with her wonderful husband. This isn’t fair. I got angry some more.

She had radiotherapy, chemotherapy, she’s down for surgery but the tumours are too big, the chemo isn’t working, more aggressive chemo then… still not working.

There is a drug, Avastin which could potentially help shrink the tumours to a size that is operable. I will leave the disgusting practices of Hoffman la Roche, the company who supply this drug for another blog. A company who I have heard described as ‘not even amoral but immoral’ by a Doctor.

The upshot is, Avastin is not deemed cost effective enough to be available on the NHS. My friend will have to pay.  

The drug costs £1500 a session, she needs six sessions for this round and it’s very likely she’ll need at least six further sessions.

Yesterday at 4.45pm we set up a justgiving page and we were blown away. In five hours we had raised £6,000 and by morning her first course of treatment at £9,000 was covered and now we’re collecting for the next.

What struck me, and turned my attentions away from how shitty this situation was for my friend and towards how bloody brilliant people are, were the comments left by people making donations and seeing the range of people who donated.

My friend is a teacher and we saw pupils, ex-pupils, parents of pupils donating. One a twelve year old who gave £10 towards his teacher’s treatment. Friends donated, relatives of friends, friends of relatives. One donation came from a young woman / teen whose brother’s girlfriend’s mum is a friend of my friend. She didn’t need to do that! She is a wonderful person!

People who’ve only ever come into contact with my friend via social media sent funds and one complete stranger donated £250! These people are bloody brilliant.

It wasn’t just the money either. 

A man who I’ve met once contacted me to offer to DJ for free for a fundraising event, an ex-pupil now singer emailed me to offer to perform for a fundraising event, a friend started contacting local venues to put together a concert, the head of a teaching union in our area asked if he could see how they might be able to help. This was phenomenal. These people are bloody brilliant.

So stick it death.

Stick it Trump.

Stick it Putin and Kim Jong Un and Theresa May.

Stick it Boris and David Davis with your crass double-D jokes.

Stick it politicians with your penny pinching, grubby little mits all over our public services.

Stick it to your pay caps and your fake pay-cap lifts.

Stick it Amazon and Starbucks and all you other skin-flint companies who dodge contributing to our children’s education and treatment of our sick through fair taxation.

Stick it Richard-offshore-Branson.

We got this. Us little folk, we got this.

Us on the ground doing the legwork; we’re going to foodbanks and we’re putting school uniforms onto credit cards and we’re not just about managing actually, but we got this. We are good people and we count and you know what? Us people, us little people, we are bloody brilliant.  


If you would like to donate to help Kate pay for cancer treatment please click here:

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/help-kate-kick-cancer?utm_id=2&utm_term=njP86VBeA

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The UK, Where We Mourn Bells While People Sleep On The Streets By Kelly Grehan 

By Kelly Grehan

Yesterday it was quietly announced that the cost of the renovations to the Elizabeth Tower had doubled to £61 million. Having recently written to my own MP about the lack of public sector pay rises, and having received a reply saying ‘we have to live within our means’ I was somewhat surprised to hear the magic money tree was once again available.  

You will remember back in August when our Prime Minister, not known for her sentimentality, expressed her upset at news that the bell commonly known as Big Ben, was to cease chiming for the period of work, saying ‘it can’t be right for Big Ben to be silent for four years.’ 
She urged John Bercow, the Speaker, to find a way to keep the bell ringing – although what she felt he could do remains to be seen. 

In a country where 250,000 people are homeless, where the number of people waiting more than 6 month for an operation has trebled in the past four years and where Sure Start and care services are being cut that buildings are a priority. 

Of course, The Elizabeth Tower is not the only public building about to be gifted public funds for a renovation. Last year it was announced that Buckingham Palace is to undergo a 10-year refurbishment to the tune of £369m. Work on The Houses of Parliament is estimated to cost around £7 billion. Now I understand Parliament is a Grade I-listed building and a Unesco world heritage site, but I suggest the fact it is in need of extensive restoration is due to it no longer being fit for purpose to fulfil its role. Maybe we should accept it is time to move Parliament elsewhere. While we are at it we can build student style hall of residence for MPs to stay in next door so they will no longer require second homes in London.   
Now people will argue that these buildings are important, are part of our heritage, of historic importance etc. But you know what else is important? People! I cannot help thinking we have got our priorities wrong somewhere and the buildings taxpayers should be spending money on are those intended to house people. 

The signs homes are of no importance are everywhere. 

Housing , or lack thereof is ruining countless lives. Rough sleeping has risen for the last 6 years in a row. Latest official figures show an estimated 4,134 people were forced to sleep outside in 2016, up 16% on the previous year.
The number of families in temporary accommodation has risen by 61% since the tories came into power in 2010. Local authorities accepted 14,600 households as statutorily homeless in the first three months of 2017, with a total of 77,240 families in temporary housing. 6,500 families now live in B&Bs, which are used by local authorities when they have no other options, of these more than 3,000 have dependent or expected children.

The number of people on waiting lists for council housing in England alone stands at 1.2 million. This is despite rules making many people ineligible to apply. Very few of them will ever receive housing from the local authority. 

In January 2016 Labour sought to introduce an amendment to the Housing Bill which would ensure rented homes had to be fit for human inhabitation. Now it beggars belief that anyone could be allowed to make money renting a property unfit for humans to reside in and not be breaking any laws, but they can. The tories voted this amendment down. According to the latest English housing survey 30% of homes fail to meet the government’s decent homes standard. 

We know the awful tragedy which befell those living in Grenfell Tower occurred after residents warnings that the building was unsafe went unheeded by those in authority. It seems the £10 million refurbishment of the building went mostly on the cladding (about £8 million) rather than attempts to make the housing more inhabitable inside the homes.   

Then there are the millions of people who now make up Generation Rent, who, often despite earning above the average wage have no hope of affording a deposit to buy a property so are at the mercy of a largely unregulated and extortionate rental market.   

Every single person living without a permanent, safe or stable roof over their head represents a life not being enjoyed to its full potential and in my opinion indicates the failures of our society. We are always being told that austerity prevents us from addressing these problems, but when it come to fixing palaces and clocks the money is readily available.   

Isn’t it time we started putting people and homes above state buildings?   




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My Open Letter to The PM About How Austerity Affected My Childs’ Mental Health

By Lisa Mulholland 

Dear Prime Minister  

I feel compelled to give you an insight into how austerity has affected my family.  
Tonight, I sit here in despair, anxious about tomorrow and what the day will bring. I wonder what battles I will have to fight tomorrow to ensure that the eldest of my three children has access to a service that everyone is entitled to; an adequate education.  

What strings am I going to have to pull tomorrow? 

How on earth am I going to manipulate the system this week, just to get a fair chance at a place at a school that meets his needs, or to get access to mental health service, or health service for that matter?

I wonder what tactics I’m going to have to resort to this week. Yes. This week. The overwhelming challenges change weekly. These are the things that are going to keep me awake tonight.  

You see, my 11-year-old son is high functioning autistic. He also has ADHD, dyspraxia and some possible mental health issues. He is what the paediatricians would call ‘complex’.  

They have a 2-year waiting list just to diagnose a child with autism.
I know this because my youngest child is on that waiting list. It’s a pretty confusing place to be, pretty desolate, pretty frustrating. Not at all pretty really.  

My eldest needs to be treated by CAMHS. But In some parts of Kent there is a 5-month waiting list for children or teenagers that need ‘urgent’ treatment. By urgent I mean suicidal. I know this because the poor receptionist at CAMHS has told me so. She must deal with many desperate parents daily.  

I am lucky that I have only waited 8 weeks for my ‘urgent’ referral to CAMHS.  So here I am, feeling lucky.
Waiting for the paediatrician to plead with CAMHS to treat my anxious son. They are overstretched and are trying to pass my son onto the paediatric services. So, they are now in a battle, and my son is piggy in the middle. 

Even after referrals from the ADHD nurse, GP and a paediatrician working the night shift at A and E (yes, we ended up in A &E when his panic attack prevented him from being able to breathe) we have waited and the problem has escalated. 

He cannot leave the house without having a panic attack.  The only school that is suitable and can possibly meet his needs also have a long and difficult history and they are wary of taking him on. The children that attend that school are very vulnerable and have also been pushed from pillar to post. Getting a place in a specialist school, especially this one, is not straightforward.  

You see their funding was cut last year and they were to be closed permanently. They were saved at the last minute but they are now under very high pressure to perform better and stay open. Can they afford to waste a precious place on my son who might not be able to manage there? 

Tomorrow my anxious, autistic son who desperately wants to go to school, who desperately wants to go to university, must swallow his anxiety, crush all his fears, put two failed school placements behind him and go and spend a day at this school (without the promise of a place).  
He must try his utmost best to convince them that he fits their criteria. I know they do not want him there. I haven’t told him this. I have had to give him many pep talks tonight. We have had tears, self -harm and panic attacks and the night is only just beginning. 
I know I won’t sleep. He may wake several times with night terrors tonight. Who knows what will happen.  
Nevertheless, I will get up in the morning and pray he holds it together long enough for them to see that he is worth teaching. I will then come home and call CAMHS and plead with them to treat my son for this anxiety that is preventing him from leaving the house and getting an education.  

It isn’t CAMHS fault, it isn’t the Schools’ fault, it isn’t the local authorities fault and it is not the paediatricians’ fault.  
Who is to blame?  

It isn’t my son.  

It isn’t me. 

I did not ask to have an autistic child in a time where services are on their knees and schools cannot cope with children like mine. Where funding for schools, and all NHS Services have been slashed. Who would have imagined services in the 6th richest nation in the world would get this bad? 

Crippling cuts to services under the guise of a false ‘austerity’ is not the way forward. It is merely an ideological tool that suits your agenda but not ours. 

But it’s not YOUR money to spend as you see fit!! We have paid for services via tax and national insurance and we aren’t receiving them. It is OUR money and we deserve the services we pay for.  

You represent us, you work for us. You cannot do that without understanding us, the people. 

Democracy is supposed to be “For the People, Of the People and By the People”. 

Yours 

Lisa 

A mum, a voter, a volunteer, a campaigner.

 

Lisa’s letter attracted the attention of the BBC and eventually her letter was read out to the Director Of CAMHS. To find out what happened next please click here:

https://theavengeruk.com/2017/09/18/my-letter-to-the-pm-about-my-childs-mental-health-got-an-unexpected-response/

Tory Britain: A Modern Day Disaster Zone By Lisa Mulholland 

By Lisa Mulholland 

When I hear people use the phrase ‘emergency food parcels’ it conjures up images in my head of a a war torn country or perhaps a place where a huge scale disaster has hit. I think of a place which has no infrastructure to deal with the problem at hand.

I do not think of the United Kingdom and I certainly do not think of a hardworking nurse needing to use an emergency food parcel.  Yet surprisingly and shockingly it is what is happening. Right now. All around us.

1 million emergency food parcels were given out to families in the UK in 2016 according to the Trussell Trust.

I don’t know about you but before 2013 I had never heard of the term ‘foodbank’. But now it is a term that is quite commonplace.

What does it say about us as a society when people, both working and unemployed must go cap in hand to collect an emergency food parcel?

Recently the Red Cross was called in to support the NHS in what they called a ‘humanitarian crisis’. I found this difficult to believe until I recently had the misfortune of having to visit my local A and E department. There was a 7 hour wait and when I heard the staff call out via tannoy message “We are in crisis tonight please go home unless your injury is life threatening”. I could not believe my ears. 


As a nation, we used to send emergency food parcels to countries that didn’t have an infrastructure to support its most vulnerable in times of war, drought  or disaster.

In churches, schools and local supermarkets we used to do collections for them and I remember feeling fortunate that I lived in a society that, I believed, would never experience such poverty.

But all I see is now is collections for food banks and local communities.

So what has changed?

What went so drastically wrong?

We aren’t war torn, there has been no catastrophic event and there have been no natural disasters. So where is the mainstream media outcry?

There isn’t any. It has been normalised and we have become anaesthetised to it. 

In fact, the Conservative Party and the Mainstream Media would have us believe that our economy is doing just fine. That unemployment levels are at their lowest since 1972, according to the Office of National Statistics.

And that nothing has changed.

But it has.

And quite startlingly so. The decline has been rapid.

To my mind there has been one catalyst, that has set off a chain of very unfortunate events that has led us to the situation we are in today and that was when the Conservatives entered government in 2010.  

They did not arrive in a ‘landslide’ fashion.

There was no overwhelming support for them.

They slithered quietly into power on the back of a hung parliament and had to form an alliance with the Lib Dems just to form a legitimate government.

Yet the chain of events that they have set in place with crippling austerity, targeting the vulnerable, and the disabled has been so severe that the UN launched an investigation into it.

Yes we, the United Kingdom were not only investigated by the UN but our austerity policies were found to be in breach of international human rights laws.

Shameful, abhorrent, cruel. But again, where is the media outcry?

We now hear terms like ‘the working poor’ being used. A term I have not heard in my 38 years of life but that is now a widely understood term in our society.

And now according to a leading Professor (as quoted in the Evening Standard) life expectancy improvements have now started to slow down since the dreaded year of 2010.

The rise of homelessness has doubled from 2010 and that rise is not slowing down. The number of rough sleepers has sharply increased from just under 2000 in 2010 (when Conservatives came into power) to 4,136 this year.

An increase of 134%. 

If the Conservative Party could be compared to a natural disaster, I would say the one that resembles them the most is a tsunami.

They have hit us with wave after wave of bad decisions. And it feels like it is impossible to come up for air.

Just when good old Corbyn forced a U turn on child tax credit cuts, or when the plan for all school to be academies was overturned, every victory has been minimised by the mainstream media while at the same time we are hit in the the face with some other nasty Tory policy proposal.

And that is how it has gone on.

With each fight against some awful decision; some awful cut they try to impose, they simultaneously hit us with another.

How can you come up with air when the waves of cruelty keep coming?

I feel like we are living in our very own disaster movie. You know the one where all the experts like the meteorologists warn of impending doom but no one listens until it is too late.

I feel that’s where we have been with this Conservative government.

In our case we had the economic experts warning us about Brexit. We had the small independent newspapers telling us how austerity would cause poverty. But then you had politicians like Gove putting down the experts with his famous quote last year when he said, “The people of this country are sick of experts”.

No one listened and now look.  

Most disaster movies have a happy ending. So what do we do?

Do we sit and wait for the happy ending to just arrive itself?

I certainly won’t wait. I will keep writing, blogging, petitioning and campaigning until everyone gets the message. And I urge you all to do the same.

The Conservatives don’t care about you or I (unless you are a millionaire).

They never have and they never will .

So if we want our happy ending we need to fight for it in any way, possible.  And soon!

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Sources

The Trussell Trust

Blood On Our Hands? London Hosts World’s Biggest Arms Fair by Kelly Grehan

By Kelly Grehan

 

The word ‘fair’ might conjure up images of village greens, tombolas, cake sales and arts and crafts or maybe thrill seeking rides, but in London this week an altogether different fair has come to town: one in which 1,600 exhibitors from 54 countries display their weaponary to prospective buyers.  

 

Representatives of countries with concerning human rights records including Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates have been invited. The bi-annual event is one reason for the UK is the second biggest arms dealer in the world.  

 

Whilst there has been condemnation of this from protest groups International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has defended Britain’s arms export dealing claiming that if countries were unable to acquire the weapons they wanted legally there would be an eruption of ‘unregulated’ sales. Which reminds me of the line trotted out by drug dealers, that if they did not sell addicts drugs someone without their diligence would.  

 

There has been particular pressure from campaigners for Britain to end its arms trading with Saudi Arabia, because of its well documented history of repression and human rights abuses. However the government has paid no attention and has continued to regard Saudi Arabia as a priority market for UK arms sales. 

The UK has approved £3.8bn of arms licences to Saudi Arabia, the leader of a multinational coalition in Yemen, since the conflict escalated in March 2015. 

This is fuelling the civil war in Yemen, where Saudi forces are supporting the government in its struggle against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. It is very likely that selling arms to a country in conflict will make the conflict more deadly and last longer, indeed, there is no sign that the Saudi-led air bombardment, which has been going on for two years, will decisively break the military stalemate. 

More than 10,000 people have been killed and three million displaced already with the coalition’s air and naval blockade driving millions more to the brink of famine and sparking the world’s largest ongoing cholera outbreak. Why do we not see more headlines about this? Maybe because the unpalatable truth is we are complicit in the indescribable suffering of the Yemeni people.  

 

The truth is, for all our talk about us being a humanitarian nation, by holding the world’s biggest arms fair and trading with countries we know to be engaging in immoral warfare categorically, we are a country who prioritise arms sales and profit over human rights. As a taxpayer and British citizen I just do not see how anyone can feel proud of our approach to arms sales and knowing what we are involved in in Yemen, but also in other countries.

With every weapon we have been involved in being used against an innocent person or or destroying the homes and cities of innocent people with have blood on our hands.

 

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Lucy Chapman: The Disgusting Truth about Fuel Poverty

•People can be too poor to put their heating on and not be classified as living in ‘Fuel Poverty’

•Price hikes which cause more people to struggle with fuel costs do not cause more people to be classified as living in ‘Fuel Poverty’

•Fuel Poverty unjustly affects households with children and is steadily increasing for the over 75s.

So, last month we heard that British Gas are to increase their electricity costs by 12.5% from September, just as the weather gets cooler, nights longer and the nation reaches out to put ‘just one bar’ on their electric fire. Thanks, British Gas! Couldn’t have left it till spring to start increasing your £5million profit could you?

Looking at Fuel Poverty in Britain, I am appalled but not surprised to read that fuel poverty affects more single parents with dependent children than any other group. That’s right, we probably all knew it, but its official; it is children who are living with the heating off, cold showers and less hot meals more often than anyone else.

You may have opinions about the need for people to work their way out of poverty, perhaps you think if they didn’t try hard at school or graft in the work place then they should live with the consequences. But there isn’t a child on this earth that has ‘earnt’ their poverty.

So, to the real filth of fuel poverty

Government documentation explains how Fuel Poverty is calculated:

Fuel poverty in England is measured using the Low Income High Costs (LIHC) indicator. Under the LIHC indicator, a household is considered to be fuel poor if:

• they have required fuel costs that are above average (the national median level).

• were they to spend that amount, they would be left with a residual income below the official poverty line.

This new definition of the term ‘fuel poor’ was reported by The Independent in December 2013 to have instantly lifted 800,000 people out of fuel poverty overnight! Note, they are no better off or more able to pay their gas bill, but a definition change has helped solve the problem to the tune of thousands.

What does this mean?

If a household is extremely poor (below the poverty line) they won’t be counted as ‘fuel poor’ unless their gas and electricity consumption is above average. So when you read a headline stating that the government are reducing the fuel poverty gap, don’t be fooled; there are thousands of men, women and children living in poverty, unable to do a wash-load with the confidence that their pre-pay meter won’t run out mid cycle who aren’t being counted in the stats, simply because their gas and electricity bill is considered ‘average’ or below average in relation to all UK households of all incomes. And let’s face it, if you were totally broke, you would do your absolute best to keep your gas and electricity bills as low as possible wouldn’t you?

How will British Gas’ 12.5% rise in electricity costs affect the numbers of people suffering from ‘fuel poverty’?

Not at all! Well that’s great. Increase your prices all you like if that’s the case, ol’ BG! £5million a year profit does sound a bit on the low side and somebody somewhere probably needs a new yacht…

“The fuel poverty indicator is a relative measure, as it compares households to national income thresholds and national median energy costs. A change in income will only have an impact on fuel poor households if they see relatively larger income changes (increase or decrease) than the overall population; the same is true for household energy costs.”

(Annual Fuel Poverty Statistics Report, 2017. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

Because you have to have above average fuel consumption to be counted in the ‘fuel poor’ data, an increase to prices of any magnitude, will not affect the government statistics because they will have simply created a new ‘average’.
So, in conclusion: if you’re so poor that you can’t cook your kids a hot meal or dry their clothes affectively in winter but you keep your gas and electricity consumption down below the UK average, you’re not in fuel poverty, and if fuel prices go up resulting in more people finding they’re unable to afford a warm shower every day, there are actually no more ‘fuel poor’ people in Britain.
In June the Conservatives announced their plans to cut the fuel allowance to all but the poorest pensioners. The Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnel published analysis suggesting the lives of 4,000 pensioners could be at risk as a result…

Pay Raises in Britain

1% (not guaranteed) – Teachers

1% – Nurses

1.5% – Soldiers

2% – Firefighters

7.3% – Multi-million pound Energy Company


Thanks for your fuel price cap promise, Theresa May. People voted to keep ordinary people’s lives just this side of manageable yet children are being tipped over the edge on your watch and you’ll not even count them in your numbers. #proudtobebritish

There is a whole host of other issues here too; far too many to do justice to within my 800 words: The highest proportion of ‘fuel poor’ households are privately rented; the highest proportion of people forced to use exploitative pre-payment meters are also in privately rented homes; pre-payment meters cost the customer up to £300 per year more than other customers.

Fuel poverty has been rising for people over 75 since 2013.

Fuel poverty is more prevalent in the homes of people of ethnic minority

Most recent data shows over 1.03 million households with one or more children are ‘fuel poor’

…To cover the whole shameful topic, I’d need another 10,000 words.